In our endeavors we are but vestiges of virtue, the surviving evidence of our own authenticity. Destined to be seen as only that worth keeping in eternity.
To be as water rushing over a steam bed. Cleansing away past intrusions of that which may appear to be less than what may be seen as acceptable. Continually bringing forward to the mind’s eye that which provides clarity for others in this final entry following the commentary and thoughts evoked by “Inward Training”. Trying to evoke spontaneity of both breath and spirit by visualizing the meditative connection between heaven and earth, as well as mind and body. As if giving others a passport saying its okay to go there too.
Nishan Hill Birthplace of Confucius
Part of being on a path that we’re on is learning to watch ourselves as if we’re some other entity and looking for patterns in the approach we take. It often seems as though life is simply about unveiling our inner nature as if the peeling back of an onion, as if sheading our skin. Layer upon layer of what appears first as personality and perhaps ego, to a core that is simply waiting to be unraveled. For myself, writing is a way of divination, perhaps perception by intuition; instinctive foresight… or simply the act of remembering.
Beyond thoughts of philosophy or religion to transcendence. Exploring the crevices of mind and soul. Clearing away intrusions and finding answers like the tortoise shells of old. As the Tao speaks through the silence of our heart. The path of virtue is found for the one that connects everything under the sun with the proper way. Enduring things found in the present with outcomes to be assured in the long-run of history.
Thoughts of emptiness and remaining shapeless always seem the basis for showing the way for the sage. The paradox always encountered by the one reaching out to the indefinable and seemingly unknown with thoughts of what was considered either the best or different.
In the end, knowing cause and effect will always determine final outcomes. Looking to the patterns of heaven found in the stars and nature the configurations on earth to be left behind, as entreaties that forever serve as guideposts along our way. What the shaman knew intrinsically that we often follow without knowing how or why. To be like water without judgment shaping things to their fullest while leaving no sign of your passing. As you assist others in finding their own place by and through their own endeavors. Always to be seen as if overcoming both the hard and the strong with suchness and suppleness with a comforting ease you have always known as the underlying current knowing that this to will pass.
To breathe deeply letting tranquility flow by as you have seen and done it all before. As you recall that a Buddhist idea of hell is being trapped in a perpetual cycle of mistakes you never get out of. Freeing ourselves again to be like water… We see this in the Tao Te Ching in Verses 8 and 81 below as excerpts of my book “Thoughts on becoming a Sage, the Guidebook for leading a virtuous life”, written in 2000 and published in China in 2006.
Verse 8 – Taking shape while remaining shapeless
Travel as if you were water taking on every shape that comes your way as you give life to everything and everyone you touch and meet. Conveying the eternal spring that comes forth from you each day as if you were just passing by.
The Han – Stone Carving from Confucius Temple
Being content to remain at the bottom of all things – free from blame. Avoiding competition while maligning no one.
Choosing humility and that which no one else chooses to do.
Travel like water as if approaching the unattainable Tao. Remaining clear and deep. Yet constantly emptying to give life to others. Reflecting but remaining pure as you cleanse all that you touch. Having no purpose of you own, assisting truth and helping others to find their natural way as if you were all encompassing, but not really here.
Beihai Park and the Nine Dragon Wall in Beijing are remnants of a time when the Emperors ruled China from behind the walls of the Forbidden City. The dragon connected the emperor to God and his divine nature epitomized Confucian order and benevolence. Visiting the Wall, you get a sense of the meaning of the dragon to longevity, virtue, and remaining authentic to our true selves.
What can be the evidence from our past that is our bell-weather going forward? It becomes our extension of how we have approached life as follows: by bringing help to all without competing, choosing what others avoid while approaching the Tao, staying in tune with earth’s abundance, thinking with depth, helping with kindness, speaking with truth, governing with peace, working with skill, and moving along with time… all done while competing with no one.
The Tao Te Ching tells us:
Verse 81 – Remaining in High Style
Remaining satisfied with just what you have as you are content to live as the extension of the Tao which has become the reflection of who and where you are.
Living within the Tao Confucius Temple Qingdao
Living within the Tao, the sage soon becomes aware that he is nothing more than an extension of what occurs in nature. Enabling all to come forward to find their true place, not as the substitute for their action, but as one who empowers others to see beyond themselves as the sage stays in the background doing nothing.
Envisioning a place where there are tools that remain unused, where people have no need to move far afield, are easy with death and where it takes them, with places to go but no reason to travel, and defenses in place but no reason to defend them. Satisfied with the fruits of their labor and content with where they find themselves as they go restfully to sleep each night. Content with their homes and happy with their customs as they know the taste of the Tao and remain adorned with virtue. Even though others may live close by they have no reason to visit as all they need, they already have.
Living in Contentment
I think a key to understanding is seeing beyond ignorance and propagating wisdom. Ultimately, self-cultivation has no other method but living with knowledge of the way of virtue found in the Tao. Meditation begins by disengaging from the status quo that enable a stream of consciousness to allow us to concentrate on stillness. To a place that defines not what you do – but who you are. It is from here that we can see life’s illusions as transitory and subjective… and non-existent.
For myself, it’s like rising above the stream of water or consciousness, that encompasses all, to the ultimate. To where the Bodhisattva resides in each of us. To an awareness of the void that becomes all-embracing. Where we find an internal state of imperturbability, to the place exempt from all external sensations. For the Buddhist in meditation this is what defines enlightenment. To reach the state beyond study knowing innately that you have arrived. For the Taoist it always returns to the shaman, Lao and Chuang Tzu and the Tao. For when you move beyond illusion, there is no longer a reason to study, as you have returned to your authentic self, and fully understand the meaning of wu wei and your journey.
As you choose to let go in order to be in control as don Miguel Ruiz Jr.’s The Mastery of Self teaches us… by simply knowing thyself “understanding the teachings is the first step, but applying them is what makes you a Master.” or as repeatedly referred to here as one for the ages… a sage.
With Taoism always seeming to come back to someone referred to as Master Lao, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In my earlier entries here, I make reference to a second book attributed to Lao Tzu entitled the Nei-yeh – Inward Training. It’s contribution to Taoism has been as great or greater for those who see the Taoist path as essential to living a good life. It was written more than two thousand years ago. It can be found here on my website. The final two chapters, chapters twenty-five and twenty six of twenty-six are as follows:
Nei-yeh – Inward Training
The vitality of all people inevitably comes from their peace of mind.
I Ching – Yin and Yang The Eight Immortals – Xian
When anxious, you lose this guiding thread;
when angry, you lose this basic point.
When you are anxious or sad, pleased or angry,
the Way has no place to settle.
Love and desire: still them!
Folly and disturbance: correct them!
Do not push it! do not pull it!
Good fortune will naturally return to you,
and that Way will naturally come to you
So you can rely on and take counsel from it.
If you are tranquil then you will attain it;
if you are agitated then you will lose it.
That mysterious vital energy within the mind:
One moment it arrives, the next it departs.
So fine, there is nothing within it;
so vast, there is nothing outside it.
We lose it
because of the harm caused by mental agitation.
When the mind can hold on to tranquility,
the Way will become naturally stabilized.
For people who have attained the Way
it permeates their pores and saturates their hair.
Within their chest, they remain unvanquished.
Follow this Way of restricting sense desires
and the myriad things will not cause you harm.
Finally, it is learning to live with discernment and tranquility. Letting the world come to your doorstep, as you live wholly within what the Tao has taught you.